Thursday, March 29, 2012

How I made my own dirt without even trying

What crazy weather we've been having in Michigan!! A week and a half ago we had temps in the 80s for a few days straight (set lots of records), and now we're back to more "normal" temps in the 50s-60s. Our fruit-farming friends are pulling their hair out... :( Please pray for NO more frosty nights the rest of the spring!

I decided this year to take it easy on what I'd be planting in my veggie garden -- I only bought seeds for green beans, carrots, zucchini, and sweet corn. I've had success every year with the first three, and we always eat them up, and I wanted to add one new thing so sweet corn it is.

But I was a little sad when I realized I didn't plan for any cool-season crops (think peas, lettuce) that could be planted RIGHT NOW! I've been itching to get something in the ground, but then again, with this crazy weather...

Yet I've got some more prepping to do in the garden before I can dig in (pun intended :) with my veggie seeds. Some grass and weeds have sprung up that I need to remove, and I want to add some more soil and compost.

By the way, have I mentioned I discovered I was making my own compost without even realizing it?!

Last fall we had a huge windstorm, and a large plastic garbage can rolled into our backyard. Thinking it belonged to a neighbor who might want it back, I left it on the side of the house for a week to see if anyone would take it. They didn't. So I thought ok cool! I've got a container. Maybe someday I'll make it into a rain barrel...

I stuck it up at the edge of the garden, and as I cleaned out the old plants and weeds last fall I tossed them in the barrel. I thought about using the wheelbarrow, but I don't really have a decent place to dump stuff... except the corner between fences where our yard meets our neighbors'... but I'd already dumped a bunch of grass there when making the garden last spring...

So this barrel got FULL of stuff. And I left it there. Not wanting to deal with it yet.

A few months later, Abby and I were walking around the backyard, and I noticed the level of "stuff" in the barrel had dramatically decreased. The top was still just old dead weedy stuff, but I had a hunch I wanted to check out... And lo and behold...

DIRT!!! Beautiful, dark dirt!!!

I grabbed a shovel and starting spreading. Abby thought I was crazy that I was so excited about dirt.

Then I put the top layer of dead weeds back in the barrel, along with some more weeds and things we pulled out of the garden. It's about time to check on the barrel again. :)

I still have a real compost bin on my gardening wishlist, but this free, blown-in barrel will do the trick for now!

Do you make your own compost for your garden?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Project Simplify week 2, and some thoughts about hospitality

This week's hotspot for Project: Simplify was technically the pantry and fridge. I walked into my kitchen Monday morning and saw this (and I can't believe I'm posting this for everyone to see...) :

Usually we keep up with dishes pretty decently, although the counters usually do have some dirty and some clean dishes on them (the sink separates the two). But after a busy few days and general laziness on my part (I really don't like doing dishes), things got out of hand this time.

The night before (Sunday), I was struck by a bit of self-consciousness/embarrassment. We had taken Abby to the playground, where we happened upon a couple and their daughter who live a few houses down from us. We don't know them very well, but they've always seemed like a real nice family. As the sun was going down, they convinced their little one it was time to head home and get something to eat. We were about ready to leave too, and I suddenly had the thought that I should invite them over for dinner -- we were just going to grill up some burgers and hot dogs anyway. But I kept quiet, as I thought about my current disaster of a kitchen...

And I found myself very quiet and sad on the whole walk home. I've always felt I have a gift (or at least a desire) for hospitality. I enjoy having people over for lunch on Sunday (pancakes -- it's a tradition!), and I love to plan parties. I like being able to randomly call up friends and invite them to pop-over for games and dinner on Friday night (sometimes we even bake popovers! :) .

But lately my house has not been that haven of peace I want it to be for my own family, let alone for anyone else.

So I decided to make a change. Most years, one of our New Years' resolutions is to do the dishes every night after dinner. It works for a few weeks, then, like so many other resolutions, slips away. So I don't want to say something as constraining as that. We are very involved in many different activities, and often aren't home in the evening (as you can see from the piled up dishes last weekend...).

I developed a simpler goal: At some point each day (morning, afternoon, OR evening) I want to be able to look around my kitchen/dining room/living room and say ok, if we had unexpected guests sometime today, I wouldn't be embarrassed by my house!

Needless to say, on Monday I decided to skip the fridge and pantry part of Project: Simplify this week (they're both doing pretty good anyway), and focus on other kitchen cleaning. I began by tackling that MOUND of dishes. While they were drying, I baking soda/vinegar/boiling water-ed the sink drains. Then I put ALL the dishes away (wow that never happens!), cleared the counters of EVERYTHING, and brought out the all-purpose cleaner and SoftScrub.

I even scrubbed down the stove top really well, and cleaned the microwave etc. inside and out.

Then I put the stuff back on the counters and moved on with life. And you know what? I'm ok with a few dirty dishes in the sink. I'll get to them today or tomorrow. Our house currently looks "lived in",  but not messy. There is no way any mom can keep a spotless house.

This weekend we basically have no plans. Nothing tonight, nothing tomorrow, nothing Sunday (except church in the morning, and that's my birthday!! :) . I'm hoping we can be a little social and invite people over. Now if only we had a tv to host a good March Madness party... ;)

Baby update update

After a really busy couple of days, I finally can post the results of Tuesday's ultrasound:

Baby girl #2 will be arriving in late July or early August! :)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Baby update

Well it's that time folks! I'm a few days over 20 weeks, and today is the big ultrasound!!

My friend Debbie and me, I was 17 weeks at the time, she was 34.

Rocky and I at a wedding a week and a half ago, I was just at 19 weeks.

So... what's your vote?? Boy or girl?? We will be finding out the gender today -- just in case it's a boy this time we'd like to get a few non-pink things...

Our big project once school is out is to [finally] finish the basement!! The last two summers we've made progress -- drywall is up and mudded in the hallway and main living area. But we'd like to get all of it done and carpeted and be finished. We're hoping to eventually put our bedroom down there and have the two current bedrooms be for the kids. I'll keep you posted on the progress. :)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Project Simplify Week 1: Kids Stuff

Oops I missed getting this post up over the weekend like I'd wanted to. :( Oh well maybe I'll do better next week!

Hot Spot #1 for Project Simplify was "Kid's Stuff."  I posted my first thoughts about Abby's closet last week, and was really glad to have a goal in mind of more than "I need to get this done so it looks better." I really needed to get it done so I knew what clothes she needed for summer! And boy did I realize I was missing some stuff. Like t-shirts and shorts...

I went to the Mom2Mom sale on Saturday. This one was essentially a big garage sale where moms rented a space and sold their own stuff. So they could set their own prices. I found some tables with t-shirts for  50 cents (of course those were all boys clothes...), and some tables with t-shirts for $1.50! Needless to say, I ended up getting about a half dozen dresses for $2-3 each instead. They'll be so cute and comfy on her this summer. :)

(there are still many more Mom2Mom and consignment sales over the next month or two, and then we hit yard sale season! yay! so I'll still be able to look for a few pairs of shorts too...)

SO. Here are my before and after photos of Abby's closet:

Not a whole lotta difference. I did get another big storage tote, and got all those clothes up off the floor and also went through and packed away her winter dresses. I also put together one big garbage bag full of clothes she never wore (mostly things given to me) and I could never see another of my kids wearing either. I added it to the growing pile in the garage (maybe this year I'll finally work on having a garage sale!). The top shelf still holds clothes that were hand-me-downs that won't fit her until at least next fall, maybe even not till the summer after.

This whole clean-up took me all of a half hour. So simple! Why had I been putting it off for so long??

Did you do any spring cleaning over the weekend? Tell me about it!

This week's Hot Spot #2 is the pantry and fridge. And it's not just about tossing old food from the fridge. It's also about considering the food you actually keep on hand and eat...

Will you join me?

Saturday, March 10, 2012

My Gardening Wishlist...

Guess what guess what??? I ordered my garden seeds yesterday!!! I know it's already the second week of March, and many people in mid-Michigan have (I'm sure) ordered their seeds a looooong time ago, but hey -- I haven't had any luck starting seeds indoors, and this year I'm not even interested in crops that require starting early! In fact, this year I don't even have any "cool-season" crops to plant! (but of course that means come Spring Break the first week of April, I'll be twiddling my thumbs...)

So I've been daydreaming... about the tools and things I would love to buy for all my gardening adventures if I had an endless amount of money to spend. This will be a great place to record my wishlist and maybe someday work on getting these things...

  • Rain barrels -- All I want are big 30-50 gallon drums placed under our downspouts. Maybe with a removable screen on top to keep out floaties and mosquitoes. Oooo check out this how-to-make-your-own I found! I want four please!!

  • Compost bin -- Ideally one of those rotating ones.

  • Pots so I can transfer herb plants from the garden to the deck (so I'll actually use them in cooking)

  • A watering can -- Can you believe I don't have one?? This would go great with the basic rain barrels...

Hmm that's all I can think of for now! What kinds of things are on YOUR gardening wishlist?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Project: Simplify 2012!

Oh my goodness oh my goodness!! (said in my best little kid voice, like what's-her-name from Annie)

How could I have missed Tsh's original post three weeks ago about this year's Project: Simplify??

I participated off and on last year and wrote about it on my other blog (ok now that I look back, I guess I only really participated the first week... or at least only wrote about it the first week... but I had good intentions! :)

But this year when I read Tsh's post on Monday about Hot Spot #1, the organizing/spring cleaning/nesting part of me kicked into high gear and thought yes yes yes!! I can do this!! And I can live to blog about it!!!

Especially since I immediately had an image in my mind of what I needed to do when I read the words "kids stuff"...

(play scary dungeon music now)

This is Abby's closet. I'm sure many of you know how it goes with kid's clothes -- they outgrow them CONSTANTLY. And for awhile I was able to keep up, with those cute pink tubs in the corner of the closet. Until Meijer decided to not carry the cute pink ones for awhile. Now all I see are blue and green and red. So I haven't gotten another tub in awhile. So as Abby outgrows clothes, they've started piling up on the bottom of her closet.

Not good. I either need to go to another store that carries the pink ones, or buckle down and get a non-matching one.

The top shelf? That's ideally for clothes that she'll be growing into eventually. I need to go through that again. There may be stuff she can wear now. Especially if we're going to hit 70 degrees next week like they're predicting.

Oh and one other reason why I NEED to clean this closet this week? On Saturday (and many other weekends over the coming month) there is a Mom-to-Mom sale happening in my area. So I need to look at what we've got, and make a list of what we need, and go buy all her spring and summer clothes at great prices. Or at least most of them, since I hope to go garage-saleing this summer too. :)

So there you have it. Project: Simplify week one. My project for this week -- organizing Abby's closet. I'll hopefully work on it today, so that I'm ready to shop Saturday morning!

And I can't wait to show you a before and after picture this weekend. :) Wish me luck!

Let's do this together!!! I need y'all to help keep me accountable and complete all four weeks this time!!

P.S. Tsh says "Everyone who participates that week will be entered to win a little prize. But heck, even if you don’t win, you still get a cleaner, more decluttered home. Who wouldn’t want that?"
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